Zermatt is one of the world's most magical destinations, as popular in summer as it is during the winter ski season; nestled at the foot of one of the world's most iconic peaks, the Matterhorn, that instantly recognisable global trademark for Switzerland.
The skiing here is on a grand scale and Zermatt attracts a high percentage of advanced skiers, but much of its terrain is ideal for adventurous intermediates and even non-skiers can access many of the ski lifts in order to reach the magnificent viewpoints and superb mountain restaurants.
There are only a very few places in the world that offer trans-national linked ski domains, and there's nowhere more impressive to ski across a frontier than here on the highest ski slopes in the Alps, linked with Cervinia in Italy.
Combustion-engine vehicles are banned from Zermatt's streets, with only electric-powered public-service vehicles permitted, so the fresh mountain air is unsullied and the village retains much of its traditional charm and its human scale.
The quaint narrow lanes in the oldest quarters are lined with age-old buildings and dotted with ancient wood-built barns, yet this is no olde-worlde backwater; the central quarter has an almost urban buzz about it, filled with designer boutiques, elegant cafés, and well-heeled clientele, and the modern suburbs contain many swish hotels and dozens of impressive super-chalets.
In a region of the planet filled with world-class ski resorts, Zermatt still tops the lot.
Zermatt has three inter-linked ski areas:
The Sunnegga-Rothorn area is accessed via an underground funicular railway directly from the centre of the village. This area offers some good long red runs and a couple of great black pistes; the Sunnegga plateau sector also has a compact beginners' area, although Zermatt isn't really a good choice for novices.
The neighbouring Riffel-Gornergrat-Hohtalli area is linked to the Sunnegga-Rothorn slopes by cable car and chairlift, but can also be reached directly from Zermatt village by rack railway. Again this area offers some fabulous long red pistes, plus a few high-end blue pistes between Gornergrat and Riffelberg.
The summit sector is a bit special: an additional experts-only sector extends above the usual summit of Hohtalli and is exclusively comprised of unpisted itineraire routes off the higher summit of the Stockhorn (3,532m); this 'Triftji' sector is one of the jewels in Zermatt's many-faceted crown, but is usually only accessible from February onwards.
The principal Klein Matterhorn ski area has a sequence of gondolas and cable cars that climb from the southern end of Zermatt to the highest pistes in Europe, linked with the ski area of Cervinia in Italy. On the Swiss side there are gentle blue and red pistes on the Theodul Glacier and epic long runs down to Zermatt over great varied terrain.
All sectors are surrounded by sublime scenery and served by a plethora of excellent mountain restaurants.
Off the slopes and apres ski
Despite being a magnet for advanced snowsports enthusiasts, Zermatt is very much a year-round Alpine holiday destination that appeals to and caters for a wide range of tourists. The resort contains plenty of shops, cafés, tea rooms, restaurants and bars, as well as a very good range of non-ski sports & 'wellness' facilities: including swimming pools, squash and indoor tennis courts, two ice rinks, bowling alleys, gyms and fitness suites, and a wealth of spas and beauty salons.
A local saying states that "In Zermatt, apres ski begins at noon", and with over 100 venues ranging from first-rate mountain restaurants and slope-side terrace bars to downtown pubs, lounge bars and nightclubs, there's certainly no shortage of watering holes. Live music and entertainment feature at many venues and the ambiance ranges from lively and informal to relaxed and sophisticated.
Prime apres-ski joints include the Hennustall and the Papperla Pub, whilst the Hotel Post complex covers all bases for many visitors with its choice of in-house pubs, live music lounge and basement nightclub - the infamous Broken Bar Disco with a dance podium atop an oversized wine barrel.
Need some lessons or ski guiding in resort? SkiBro is a great choice. You can use their app to book lessons, read instructor profiles and reviews, browse the different types of lessons on offer and so much more. Take a look at their website to book!
Bars and clubs
Broken Bar Disco
Le Corbeau d'Or
Stockhorn Grill Room